Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Review of "Hochzeit Dutch Hops: Colorado Music of the Germans from Russia, 1865-1965," by Mark Warren and Marilyn Hehr Fletcher

 Review of

Hochzeit Dutch Hops: Colorado Music of the Germans from Russia, 1865-1965, by Mark Warren and Marilyn Hehr Fletcher

Five out of five stars

Description of a unique form of folk music

The Volga Germans were people recruited by  Czarina Catherine II in the 18th century to leave their native German lands and move to the area of the Volga river. They were allowed to retain their German language, culture, religion and traditions. At the time, Germany was an impoverished area with no central government and had been devastated by what seemed to be endless war. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, many of the Volga Germans emigrated to the American Midwest. When they did so, they retained their cultural heritage.

 However, for many reasons, they were given the cultural designation of being Dutch. For example, the Pennsylvania Dutch are in fact ethnically German. This book is about the Volga German music tradition, which is why the word “Dutch” is in the title.

 The coverage is of some of the music groups that developed in order to provide the entertainment needed at weddings and other get togethers. The groups traveled to where they had a gig, most groups performed in several of the states adjoining Colorado, where there were other Volga German communities.

 This is an interesting book about a very localized American subculture with roots in two separate and largely distinct European countries. From what you read the people had a lot of fun. Many of the wedding celebrations and associated dances lasted for days.

 As an interesting side note, the parents of band leader Lawrence Welk were ethnic Germans that emigrated from Czarist Russia in 1892 and settled in North Dakota.

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